The Wildean

The Wildean, Journal of the Oscar Wilde Society

COMPLEMENTARY ARTICLES IN THE CURRENT ISSUE OF THE WILDEAN

—A Publication of the Oscar Wilde Society—


During the less furtive period of his post-prison exile, many young men passed fleetingly through Oscar Wilde’s life, most of whom are either lost to posterity or little more than unidentified footnotes. But two such acquaintances have recently gained in renown, being recognized as adding interest, and even significance, to the Wilde story.

Both of these young men emerged from a short period during the Summer of 1899 when Wilde escaped the combined heat of Paris and an unpaid hotel bill, to spend time out of the city at a charming riverside hotel called L’Ecu on L’Île d’Amour at Chennevières-sur-Marne.

One of these young men, with a hitherto unheralded connection to Wilde, was Christian Frederick Gauss, a future dean at Princeton, who can now be seen to have been a potential love interest for Wilde and the dedicatee of one of his poems.

The other is the mysterious figure of Thomas Langrel Harris about whom Oscar wrote so bitterly during his last months in Paris, but whose biography as an ill-fated young artist and scoundrel was, until recently, unknown.

Oscar Wilde Society members who have recently received the July issue of The Wildean will have been fascinated by each of these young men featured in two related articles: ‘Three Times Tried’ by the present author; and ‘Oscar Wilde’s Infamous Young Swindler’, by Patricia J. Fanning.

To learn more about the Oscar Wilde Society and to receive its scholarly journal The Wildean and other benefits, visit: https://oscarwildesociety.co.uk, or simply click below to join:

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The Oscar Wilde Society, a literary society devoted to the congenial appreciation of Oscar Wilde, is a non-profit organization which aims to promote knowledge, appreciation and study of Wilde’s life, personality, and work.

© John Cooper, 2002


* For a parallel study of Thomas Langrell Harris by Matthew Sturgis see Broken Brothers on this blog.

L’Île d’Amour


Beg, Steal, and Borrow on Love Island

During July 1899 while in retreat from a sweltering Paris, Oscar Wilde spent some time at a small hotel called L’Ecu on L’Île d’Amour at Chennevières-sur-Marne.

He described the place a “a lovely spot—and island with trees and a little inn” at which he lodged by the river. While there, Oscar found rest, recreation, and even some romance. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Wilde was very hard up and in fear of being hounded by the agent of his Paris hotel who wished to settle his unpaid bill. He sent a telegram to his publisher, Leonard Smithers, asking for a loan. He wrote to Frank Harris enquiring if he had any spare cash for a handout. And to make matters worse a scoundrel acquaintance stole money from him before abruptly leaving the resort. Oscar muddled through, though, and by the end of the month he was back in Paris, moving out a hotel he could not afford, and into one that he could—a much more humble abode where he lived and where eventually he died.

As we enter the dog days of this year, here in memory of Oscar’s last real holiday are a few period photographs and postcards of the surroundings of his little love island, to give you a sense of where for one short summer he talked pleasingly to new friends and wrote pleadingly to old.

© John Cooper, 2022

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